Morning headlines: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 | St. Louis Public Radio

Morning headlines: Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Apr 12, 2011

Missouri Senate to Debate Marquee Issues Today

Missouri Senate leaders plan to debate legislation redrawing Missouri's congressional districts and allowing utilities to charge electric customers for some costs of developing a second nuclear power plant in the state. Both bills are likely to generate significant discussion.

Missouri lawmakers are responsible for drawing the congressional map to reflect the state's loss of one of its nine seats in the U.S. House. The nuclear plant bill would let utilities pass along the cost of getting an early site permit from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A voter-approved 1967 law bars utilities from charging ratepayers for the costs of a new power plant before it starts producing electricity.

St. Charles County Bans Bath Salts

So-called bath salts used to get high are now banned in St. Charles County. The county council voted Monday to ban the synthetic drug at the request of Sheriff Tom Neer and the suburban St. Louis county's health director, Gil Copley. The ban is immediate.

The Associated Press reported last week that at least nine deaths nationally over the past year are being blamed on synthetic drugs such as bath salts and fake marijuana. And the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that police in the St. Charles County town of St. Peters are investigating whether a bath salts-type substance was to blame in the death of a 34-year-old man.

Missouri Unemployment Falls

A new report says Missouri's March unemployment rate fell by three-tenths of a point to 9.1 percent. Monday's report from the state Department of Economic Development also says Missouri employers added a net of more than 24,000 jobs last month. The hospitality and leisure sector had the biggest gain, adding about 6,300 jobs, while retailers added 5,800 jobs. Other notable increases were construction, with 4,200 jobs added, and business and professional services, up by 2,700 jobs. The St. Louis area reported a net increase of 13,100 jobs, while the Kansas City area gained about 6,000.

Elk to Arrive in Missouri April 30

The first group of elk for Missouri's restoration project are expected to arrive in the state later this month. The Missouri Department of Conservation says the 34 elk are expected to arrive April 30. They're completing a three-month quarantine and health tests in Kentucky before being brought to Missouri.

The elk will be placed at the department's Peck Ranch Conservation Area in southeast Missouri. The ranch is part of a 346-square-mile elk restoration zone. The animals are expected to stay in a holding pen for up to two weeks before they're released into the refuge area, which will be closed to the public for a few months.